A smiling Nelson Mandela stands nine metres tall, looking out over and embracing the city of Pretoria with outstretched arms.
President Jacob Zuma unveiled the bronze-plated statue at the Union Buildings on Monday, a day after the former president was buried in Qunu.
“We are happy that we are here. You will notice that in all the statues that have been made of Madiba, he is raising his fist and at times stretching it. That derives from the slogan of the ANC,” Zuma said.
“This one is different from many. He is stretching out his hands. He is embracing the whole nation. You shouldn’t say this is not Madiba because we know him with his one [raised] hand.”
The R8-million statue was created by South African sculptors Andre Prinsloo and Ruhan Janse van Vuuren.
The unveiling was slightly delayed because Zuma travelled back from Qunu in the Eastern Cape on Monday morning.
Day of Reconciliation
Arts and Culture Minister Paul Mashatile told dignitaries near the statue that they had to wait for members of the Mandela family. Minutes later, Mandela’s grandson Mandla Mandela walked down the red carpet to the VIP marquee.
Zuma arrived soon afterwards with his wife Thobeka Madiba Zuma.
Several dignitaries, including former president Thabo Mbeki, Mashatile, Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe and Dali Tambo, head of Koketso Growth, which made the statue, were present.
Inkatha Freedom Party president Mangosuthu Buthelezi and Democratic Alliance federal chairperson Wilmot James were also in attendance.
Many local and international journalists were nearby. Broadcasting equipment had been set up on the lawns of the Union Buildings.
Monday, the Day of Reconciliation, marks the centenary of the Union Buildings.
Mandela died at his home in Houghton, Johannesburg, aged 95, on December 5. He was buried in his childhood village of Qunu on Sunday. – Sapa
*Source Mail & Guardian South Africa